June 6, 2008
June 6, 2008 -The American Meat Institute (AMI) this week told the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) it would support an agency policy that would require companies to control product tested by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) until the test results are known.
In a letter to Under Secretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond, M.D., AMI said it would support an agency policy that product tested by FSIS, subject to company lotting and control procedures, not be allowed to enter, or be used in product that would enter, commerce until the test results become available. AMI said that such a policy should not consist of agency retention of any FSIS tested product but rather require a company to utilize its own, effective control measures that ensure the product is not used or distributed for sale before the test results are known.
In the letter, AMI said it has long advocated as a best practice that companies retain control of sampled product to avoid a recall in the event the test result is positive. In September 2005, AMI, along with several other organizations and with assistance and encouragement from FSIS, mailed to every small and very small federally inspected establishment a best practices document encouraging them to adopt a policy to control tested product until the results are known. Still, some plants have not adhered to this practice.
Many recalls that occurred in 2007 could have been prevented if product tested by FSIS had not been used or did not enter commerce until negative test results were available, the institute said. For E. coli, 26 of the 49 recalls in 2007 occurred when product tested positive after it left the control of the producing company and entered commerce. For Lm related recalls in 2007, almost all of the nine recalls occurred because test results were positive, but the producing company did not retain control of the product. Reprinted from American Meat Institute